During the 2014 preseason to the college football season, Ole Hotty Toddy is prepared to bring Ole Miss fans the ultimate coverage preview to the 2014 season. We will be reaching out to fellow FanSided writers of other SEC schools and writers from other networks and publishers of other SEC schools to give us their in depth look of their team with what we call Opponent Sideline Q&A.
In today’s Opponent Sideline Q&A, Josh Barnhill of FanSided’s Mississippi State Bulldogs’ site – MaroonAndWhiteNation.com, was nice enough to share with us his take on Mississippi State coming into the 2014 college football season. You can follow Josh Barnhill on Twitter @MandWNation. Below is our sit-down interview with Barnhill about the Bulldogs in 2014.
Ole Hotty Toddy: Dan Mullen is coming into his sixth season as head coach for the Bulldogs. Over the past five years, it seems it has been a mediocre road for Mullen. Are State fans becoming impatient? What are the fans’ expectations for 2014?
Maroon & White Nation: It’s interesting that an Ole Miss fan would call what Mullen has done the last five years “mediocre” when you consider the following:
1. He is 36-28 (.563) while OM is 30-33 (.476) over his tenure.
2. He is 4-1 vs. OM – that’s 80%.
3. MSU and OM have the same record (15-11) over Freeze’s tenure.
4. Mullen and Freeze had the same record through their first 26 games (15-11).
There is still work to do but considering the very minimal attrition, 28 straight sell outs and the 2015 recruiting class should be his best, 99% of MSU fans would say he is not on the hot seat right now. Most State fans would like to see a minimum of 8 wins in 2014, with the potential for 9 or 10 which would make it a great year.
OHT: What are some potential strengths and weaknesses on both sides of the ball for State in 2014?
M&WN: For once quarterback and wide receiver might be a strength. We all know about Dak’s hype, but D’Runnya (Bear) Wilson is a potential star. Jameon Lewis is a Chad Bumphis type who nearly reached 1,000 yards last year and Robert Johnson is a solid wideout. For a weakness it has to be the offensive line. We lose Gabe Jackson who won the Connerly Trophy plus Charles Siddoway at RT. Some young guys will be counted on for depth, and if they don’t cut it that may come back to bite.
OHT: Jordan Washington and Artimus Samuel are no longer on Mississippi State’s football team. Washington was arrested on burglary charges and Samuel just left the team. Are there concerns with depth at defensive end and tight end now?
M&WN: Well, Washington was a defensive tackle and he was 7th or 8th in the rotation so he will not be missed. Artimus Samuel was at best the 4th string TE so he will not be missed either. Due to Mullen’s low attrition rates the last few years, he was about 5 or 6 over the 85 limit and needed some guys to “process” out. We’ve had these two plus Jeremey Chappelle and Derrick Milton transfer out. None of these players were expected to make an impact in 2014.
OHT: Tell us about some new talented players Ole Miss fans might not be aware about?
M&WN: I’ve already mentioned Bear Wilson at wide receiver. Josh Robinson and Ashton Shumpert have shown signs of being the next really good MSU tailback. Defensively, AJ Jefferson at defensive end has the stuff to break out, and Beniquez Brown at linebacker.
OHT: In 2013, Mississippi State kept up in a few of the games against the big 3 in the SEC West (LSU, Alabama, and Auburn), but fell just short of winning one. Do you see State upsetting one of the big 3 teams this season? If so, which one?
M&WN: Out of those three I would say Auburn. In the last four years MSU has lost by 3 points (vs. their national title team), 7 points (stopped 6 inches short on the last play), blown Auburn out (when they were 3-9) and lost by 4 on a 2-minute drill last year on the Plains when they went to the national championship game. The games have been really close – with the game being in Starkville hopefully State can find a way to pull one out.
OHT: The win over Ole Miss seemed to be the crowning moment in 2013 for State. What are your offseason predictions of the 2014 Egg Bowl? What are the advantages of both teams? Who do you see winning this one?
M&WN: The Egg Bowl was definitely the crowning achievement because Mullen hadn’t beat a good team in three years until that game plus it was a rivalry win, and it got State to a bowl game….and it was a thrilling ending to boot.
That game is just too hard to predict this far off. Ole Miss should have the advantage playing at home, but you never know who will be injured or what will happen with 11 games between then and now.
OHT: Do you have a “Dak Prescott for Heisman” poster in your home? If so, where is it located?
M&WN: No but I do have a poster of him kissing the Golden Egg. It’s right next to my poster of MSU in the SEC Championship Game, Final Four and CWS Championship Series.